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Government must ban fast food advertising to kids

Government must ban fast food advertising to children, says PHA

Media release, 5 July 2006

The Public Health Association (PHA) says a new report showing a link between watching television and childhood obesity shows the time has come for a ban on the advertising of fast food during children’s television programmes.

The study, which will be launched at the PHA conference in Palmerston North tomorrow, was commissioned by Agencies for Nutrition Action. It found that every hour children spend watching television increases their risk of becoming obese.

“The unexpected finding in this study was the likelihood that the increase in obesity was due to children being bombarded by advertising of high fat, high sugar foods and drinks,” says PHA Director Dr Gay Keating.

“In other words, the obese, TV watching children were virtually as active as the normal weight non-watchers. The difference was that the TV-watching children ate more snack and treat foods, and fewer fruit and vegetables.”

Dr Gay Keating says parents often get the blame if their children are overweight, but the issue is actually far more complex.

“Parents have an important role to play in helping their children maintain a healthy weight. But many are fighting a losing battle because they are living in an environment that constantly promotes unhealthy options.

“For example, it is really difficult to convince your child to have an apple as a snack, when they are bombarded with colourful, enticing advertisements for high fat, high sugar food. Fast food companies spend millions to ensure that their ads push all the right buttons.”

She called on the Government needed to put a number of measures in place to address the obesity epidemic.

“This report confirms that a ban on the advertising of high fat, high sugar foods and drinks during children’s television programmes is a key strategy to reducing childhood obesity.”


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